I am a hopeless romantic. Having just read that sentence and noting that the title of this post is “Soul mates,” you might expect this post to be about how we are all broken halves of souls trying to find the other half of our soul, and when we meet The One everything is perfect and we live happily ever after. I think that’s a beautiful idea, but I’m not sure I believe that.
One of my Rabbis in seminary once gave us a shiur about shidduchim and soul mates. He said that he believes that everyone has one person who they are destined to be with. We all know the famous Gemara which states that 40 days after a baby is born it is declared who they are going to marry. The point of this Rabbi’s shiur was that there is one person out there for all of us, and so we had better start davening for that person. Because what if that person has been making bad choices in life and is headed on a bad path? Let’s say while we’re here learning, growing, working on our middot, our bashert is involved with activities that are not quite so holy. Well, that is the person we are meant to marry, so we should daven that they make good choices and find the right path. Let’s say that person takes risks and isn’t safe and chas v’shalom something bad happens to them and they have some health issue (example: smoking, reckless driving), that is still the person we are going to marry. So daven that everything is going well with them because that is what is meant to be.
Maybe I used to believe there was only one person out there for everyone, but I certainly didn’t believe that after that shiur. I’m here being a good person while he’s out drinking, smoking, and who knows what else and too bad, I’m stuck with him? I don’t believe that. The other big issue that comes up when it comes to the whole soul mates issue is: what about people who remarry? Either because they got divorced, or their spouse passed away. Is their current spouse their soul mate? Is their previous spouse their soul mate?
I’m not sure where I heard this or if I just kind of put it together myself based on other ideas I’ve learned, but the way I see it, we are all flexible puzzle pieces. I call this the Puzzle Piece Theory. We all have a basic shape, but we can move around a bit to fit together with more than one other piece. Meaning, there are a small number of people out there who we are compatible with, who we could marry and have a happy marriage with under the right circumstances. If we change one way, then we fit better with one piece, but if we change a different way then we are more compatible with a different piece. At any given point in time, there is only one person who is best for us.
We are always changing shape and our potential basherts are always changing shape. At one point in time we somehow meet one of these people who has changed in certain way so we mostly fit together. You could meet one of these people, but because you changed in different ways then they did, you won’t end up marrying them. Does that make sense? The great thing about this theory is that if my “bashert” has gone off the derech, I don’t need to fear that my only options are to be single the rest of my life or marry someone who doesn’t keep shabbos or share my life values. I’ll find someone else to marry who fits my puzzle piece.
I still think that ideally, there is one shape we are supposed to be, and there is only one puzzle piece that fits it perfectly, given that that person has taken the shape they are supposed to be. Not everyone finds that person. Some people are lucky enough to find someone who really is The One, but others marry one of the very few other people (one out of, I don’t know, ten, at most) who they can possibly be with. It’s not a bad thing. Instead of being 100% perfect, it’s 99.9%. It’s barely detectable, and you might not know the difference. But if you end up remarrying, that second person can be equally as perfect for you. That doesn’t mean the love you felt for either one of those people is any less.
This doesn’t mean I don’t see a point in davening for your bashert. Hashem knows what’s going to happen and who you’re going to end up marrying, and the same way you daven for the people in your life right now, you should daven for the person who is going to be in your life. (Though, on a side note, I admit that often when I daven for that person I imagine that he is hoping to get married, so I daven that Hashem will help him find the person to marry…which is me, so that’s kind of selfish, but anyway…)
It would be great to find someone and know that they are the only one for you and that you were meant to be and that you are two halves of a soul and there is no one else for either of you. I wish we could all experience that. But not everyone does, which is why I’m sticking to the puzzle piece theory. May we all be zoche to find the right puzzle piece that matches us best at the right time. Amen.